"THY FIRST LOVE"
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love"- Revelation 2:4
Perhaps the pastor of the Church at Ephesus thought things were "in order" at the Church he served until one day he received an epistle from John written to all seven of the Churches in his area........and he read these words: "nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
It would not have been such an awesome statement had the letter been written by a fellow minister or from one of his members. But the admonition was from a much higher source: "I"(Jesus) have somewhat against thee." Though the letter was from the pen of John, its author was the head of the Church; the One who walks amidst the seven golden candlesticks: the Church in ever age. The problem at Ephesus was clearly defined: "You have left ME".
As a CAT scan penetrates every fiber, looking for abnormalities and deadly cancers within the body, He whose "eyes were as a flame of fire" had searched the heart of every member of this Church as well as her pastor. These penetrating eyes detected a disease within the bosom of Ephesus, a disease so deadly that immediate action was required, or the living organism, the Church at Ephesus, would die and their candlestick would be removed.
The Lord was kind in His admonition. He first noted the positive attributes of this church. He wanted Ephesus to recognize that His judgement was based upon all the facts and that His knowledge was perfect: "I KNOW thy works". Jesus was saying this, "Your lives are an open book before Me: I see it all, both good and bad." Has His vision altered over the centuries?
There were still those at Ephesus who were laborers in the kingdom: "Thy labor". These members were busy taking care of the immediate needs of the church. The specific labors they were involve in we are not told. But the Lord knew. In these labors, they had not grown weary in well doing: "Hast not fainted". They had not allowed others to rob them of their joy nor ceased their efforts because of persecutions from the enemy or criticisms of their peers. They were also patient in the midst of these persecutions and tribulations: "Thy patience." The word patience implies, 'cheerful endurance", which means that they were not only enduring the trials of discipleship, but they harbored the correct spirit in the midst of their difficulties. The discipline in their church was orderly,"thou canst not bear them which ar evil." They were doctrinally sound. They were quick to pick up on the erroneous teaching of the false "apostles".
From an outward perspective, it seems that much of the body of Ephesus was intact and functioning properly. But in the eyes of her judge, her sin was one that would, in time, destroy the whole body in spite of the good.
The word "first" can refer to nothing other than the love that each member had at one time felt for Jesus Christ. "First" simply means what it says, 'foremost in time, place, order, and importance'. Who, or what else, should hold such a distinguished position in the hearts and minds of the "general assembly and church of the firstborn?"
Slowly, by minute increments, Ephesus had altered her affections; Her priorities had shifted. Christ was not longer at the top of her list. Rather than a labor of love, Ephesus had become what any church can become: they had become mechanical. They had "works" in the Lord's name but no longer were they motivated by love for their husband.
The Lord's solution for their problem was three fold: (1) Remember; (2) Repent; (3) Do the first works. Briefly consider:
(1) "Remember what you did when you first fell in love with Me." (2) "Repent of your mechanics. Any one can render labor without love." (3) "Do the first works, those things you did when you first fell in love with me. Be as attentive; as faithful; as prayerful; as joyful; as loving; as giving; as studious; as dedicated as you were then. By this, you will find the joy you once enjoyed." Lord, let us never leave thee!!
Come to worship with us at HARMONY PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH, at Donaldson, where God is sovereign and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday morning. Phone 501-337-1115.
by His Grace,
Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.